“Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.”
A number of years ago, when I had a newborn and a toddler, my preschooler went through a season of barging into our room around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Taylor would offer morning greetings with exuberance and scramble into our bed. To help her understand what an acceptable “morning” time was, we told her that her clock needed to say 7:00. She was old enough to know her numbers so we thought we had this problem licked.
The next morning she clambered into bed again during the wee hours. When we reminded Taylor that her clock needed to say “seven”, she said “It does!” Looking over at the clock, we could make out the numbers “3:37”. We clarified that her clock needed to say seven at the beginning. That seemed to solve our problem and for long after that, she would emerge from her room at the proper time and announce loudly to the household, “It’s seven at the beginning!” I wonder why no one ever thought to add today’s verse to our standard list of principles to teach little children…
Proverbs 27:14 says “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” This verse was self-explanatory for the decades that I’ve noticed it. No matter how cheerful or well-meaning the message, if a greeting is obnoxious in its volume or timing; it is not a blessing but a curse. A detraction, not the delight it was intended to be.
Got it. I wasn’t that kind of girl anyway. I don’t knock on my neighbor’s door early on Saturday morning and bellow glad tidings. And though when we were kids, my older sister would tell me that when I grew up, I’d be the loud lady at the Bible study that kept little kids awake at night… I’m actually pretty mindful of my voice level or the serenity of any music I have on in the house as others wake up. I thought that was all this verse had for me – how not to be the perpetrator. I didn’t think that I would be the habitual victim of well-meaning but loudy-pants kids, or that perhaps I could do something about it.
Here’s the reality. In the early weeks, months and years of motherhood, sleep is the lynchpin on which our sanity precariously teeters. The most holy among us have been known to morph into wild she-beasts with its scarcity. After I had three little girls my coffee consumption status moved from “social drinker” to “dependent”. And my sleep habits changed from being an early riser to squeezing every minute of sleep I could get out of any given night. That is the reality of this season of life, and that is understandable. I believe God is very gracious and gentle toward mothers of young children. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms… and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
However, my girls got older and the household sleep patterns became more human. Though I no longer needed to play the part of the ravenous sleep troll, I didn’t immediately readjust my waking time. Sleeping in was easier. Easier that is, until I made this startling discovery. When they came into my bed to wake me up in the morning…..
I was disappointed to see my children.
What a horrible realization. I was starting each day unhappy to see my most precious treasures in the world. I’m no relational expert, but that didn’t seem like a healthy pattern for a growing relationship. It didn’t matter how sweet the little face or how adoring the words. Even though I wasn’t up in the night anymore, those little creatures put an end to my delicious sleep and I resented them for it, even if for a fleeting moment. Once I realized this, that extra hour didn’t seem worth the relational price I was paying. I did not want to spend the precious years I have with these darlings, resenting my first sighting of them each day.
You see, going back to our verse: The timing of their loud and early blessing was admittedly off making it seem more curse-like to me. But these were not insensitive adults who needed to be taught discernment and courtesy. They were little people with little control over their body clocks who were excited to find mom in the morning. That’s a lovely thing, really. The logical thing to do then, as the adult in the situation, was to make a relatively small adjustment to my life so that my choice wouldn’t be the factor that tainted the blessing of their morning greetings. I simply needed to be up before them.
Now that I am habitually awake before my children:
- I have time to meet with the Lord, to pray and gather wisdom before I’m thrown into the daily hubbub of life and parenting.
- I have time to ingest a cup of liquid joy, while seeing my husband off for the day.
- And I am therefore physically and mentally prepared to greet my darlings with pleasure.
I can now cheerfully greet my freshly-showered early-bird with a hug as she comes into my office as the sun is rising. I can more often supply breakfast in bed and a back & arm-pit scratch (yes, that’s what she likes) to my rat’s-nest-headed-dragon-breathed girl who has a hard time waking up. And I can chat through the events of the upcoming day with my woman child while I caress her beautiful face and invite her down for tea & fresh muffins.
Those greetings delight my soul and are remarkably better than the disappointment I used to feel. They have proven way more valuable than an extra bit of morning rest. And I think these better greetings are building precious memories and setting a more winsome example for their future relationships than my crusty-eyed, cranky-faced growl to leave and give mom a few more minutes of rest, for heaven’s sake.
Please hear that I’m not suggesting that we live sleep deprived. It’s folly if we try to operate outside of the unique, physical parameters God has hard-wired us with. However, perhaps the timing of our sleep could be more strategic. Even if it means I can’t get as much done, I’ll squeeze in a little afternoon power nap, or schedule a night with my family when I can excuse myself and get to bed a few hours early. I’m a girl who needs a good amount of sleep to be effective & cheerful, but I’ve adjusted how and when I get those extra, needed minutes so that I don’t miss the blessing of those first greetings of the day.
So friend, if you’re at a season of life where we’ll read about it in the paper if you don’t get some sleep… just rest. There is much grace for you. But for the rest of us – those loud, morning greetings are only a curse if we’re sleeping.
Wake up and savour the blessing.